Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 22, 2012

The Arizona Daily Wildcat, the student newspaper at the University of Arizona, has fired a cartoonist, whose depiction of a conversation between a father and a son has been denounced as anti-gay. The cartoon is visible on an online petition calling for the dismissal not only of the cartoonist but of editors who approved the work's publication. The cartoon shows the father saying, "You know son.... If you ever tell me you're gay... I will shoot you with my shotgun, roll you up in a carpet and throw you off of a bridge." The son replies "Well I guess that's what you call a fruit roll up." The newspaper published a letter apologizing for publishing the cartoon and pledging that procedures would be changed so that such a cartoon would not appear in the future.

 

 

October 22, 2012

Iranian students enrolled at universities outside Iran are struggling with the impact of the collapse of the value of their country's currency, Reuters reported. As Western nations have strengthened sanctions against Iran, the Iranian currency lost one-third of its value compared to the dollar in just 10 days this fall. For some students abroad, they suddenly lacked enough money to pay tuition. Iran's government estimates that it has 35,000 students enrolled in other countries.

October 22, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Terry Gates of Ohio University reveals how shifting geographic features contributed to the creation of two distinct groups of North American dinosaurs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 22, 2012

A study in Colorado has found little difference in the learning of students in online or in-person introductory science courses. The study tracked community college students who took science courses online and in traditional classes, and who then went on to four-year universities in the state. Upon transferring, the students in the two groups performed equally well. Some science faculty members have expressed skepticism about the ability of online students in science, due to the lack of group laboratory opportunities, but the programs in Colorado work with companies to provide home kits so that online students can have a lab experience.

 

October 22, 2012

Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, periodically releases lists of projects on which he believes the federal government has wasted its money. His new "Wastebook 2012," includes several research and education projects at colleges, and one of them is fighting back. That is number 79 on Coburn's list: "Duplicate magazine preservation," in which he blasts the National Endowment for the Humanities for awarding a $270,000 grant to Brown University and the University of Tulsa for the Modernist Journals Project, which is digitizing early 20th century publications. Coburn's book says that the project duplicates work being done by Google and others. Robert Scholes, a Brown professor who is co-director of the project, published a defense of it on the blog Magazine Modernisms. Scholes wrote that Coburn has the dollar figures wrong, ignoring that Brown and Tulsa are paying for half the work. Further, he says that the Google versions do not provide complete reproductions of the publications. And finally, he notes that the project also supports original scholarship. "Stepping back from these factual errors in the report, it’s important to understand that magazine and periodical studies constitute a vibrant and expanding area of teaching and research," Scholes writes.

 

October 22, 2012

Historically, the United States has been a popular destination for Israeli graduate students, but not undergraduates. That is starting to change, Haaretz reported. A decade ago, only a handful of Israelis came to the United States before graduate school, but now 70-100 do so. Last week, EducationUSA held its first undergraduate college fair in Israel (where it has previously organized events for graduate and professional schools). More than 600 young people attended.

October 19, 2012

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, the 21-year-old terrorism suspect arrested Wednesday after allegedly attempting to detonate a 1,000-pound bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank, entered the United States in January on a student visa to study cybersecurity at Southeast Missouri State University. According to The Christian Science Monitor, Nafis was recruited by a commissioned agent working on Southeast Missouri's behalf. The New York Daily News reported that Nafis attended classes in Missouri for one semester before transferring to the ASA Institute of Business and Computer Technology, in New York City, where he attended classes regularly.

Asked about the monitoring of international students, a State Department spokeswoman said Thursday that all applicants for visas are checked against a database called the Consular Lookout and Support System, which contains 39 million records regarding admissability into the United States. "So without speaking about the specifics of this case, let me reassure you that all cases are checked against this," Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing. "But it goes to the question of what existed in our databases."

October 19, 2012

Enrollments in schools of osteopathic medicine rose by 4.5 percent this fall, and first-year enrollment grew by 2.9 percent, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine announced Thursday. Like their peers in allopathic medical schools, osteopathic schools are striving to increase their rolls to help meet what some health care experts say is a shortage of qualified medical professionals.

October 19, 2012

A federal judge on Thursday allowed the U.S. Justice Department to intervene and to expand a suit against the Law School Admission Council, charging that it discriminates against people with disabilities who take the Law School Admission Test. The suit, which is now national in scope, charges that "routine denial" of accommodation requests constitutes discrimination against people with disabilities. Further, the Justice Department says that the council's policies on "flagging" test scores obtained by students who do receive accommodations is unfair to those prospective law students. The council has denied wrongdoing.

 

October 19, 2012

Many members of the military with student loans are missing out on important benefits, in part because loan servicers aren't giving them accurate information, according to a report released Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dealing with how student debt is handled for active-duty members of the military. Those in service are eligible both for benefits available to all Americans with federal loans, such as income-based student loan repayment, as well as some benefits available just to them, like military deferments, post-active duty deferments and an interest rate cap while on active duty. 

The report found that loan servicing errors lead to unnecessary hurdles and, in some cases, deferments and forbearances. Some members of the military were denied the 6 percent interest rate cap on both federal and private loans. Others were put into forbearance they did not request, meaning that interest continued to capitalize. In some cases, these errors could cost members of the military tens of thousands of dollars, according to the report, which marked the bureau's first steps into identifying problems with federal student loans as well as private loans.

The bureau urged loan servicers to give members of the military complete and accurate information, and regulators and enforcement agencies to hold servicers accountable. "Servicemembers who are concerned about financial problems and who must struggle to get complete information or assistance from their lenders will have difficulty focusing on their mission and accomplishing their critical national security role," the authors, the student loan ombudsman Rohit Chopra and Hollister Petraeus, assistant director of the bureau's office of servicemember affairs, wrote.

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